The second instalment to the Universal Studios parks in Orlando is Universal’s Islands of Adventure, which features some huge rollercoasters and rides themed after some of your favourite movies like Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, and a selection of Marvel films.
It may not seem like the ideal place to take toddlers, but the Islands of Adventure park has specific sections for children, along with rides dotted around the remainder of the park that your little ones will absolutely love! There is more to do than you may think at first!
What is Islands of Adventure?
The Universal Studios theme parks are split into two separate ‘dry’ parks, Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
A park-to-park ticket lets you switch between the two parks by walking the few hundred meters that separate them or by riding the Hogwarts Express, which links the two parks together.
Universal’s Volcano Bay waterpark is a mile away from the theme parks. Admission to this is included in the three park explorer ticket, where you’ll also have access to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
Toddler Tips for Islands of Adventure
Theme parks with toddlers can be stressful, trust me, I’ve been there, and from my own previous experience, I’ve gathered some valuable Islands of Adventure tips and tricks to help make your theme park day with toddlers run a little bit smoother.
When to Visit
The parks at Universal Studios get extremely busy in the summer months, and if you can travel in the off-peak season (October – February), I highly suggest it. Obviously, public holidays, school breaks, cheer weeks and festive periods are peak seasons, but if you can avoid those peak times and weekends, you will find it easier to navigate. The first couple of weeks in January are ideal as is towards the middle and end of September.
Not only will the wait times of rides be shorter, but the Florida sun won’t be at its hottest, making your day far less sweaty and uncomfortable.
Even adults need a nap sometimes, and scheduling one in for the middle of the day can prevent in park meltdowns and tantrums.
We’ve found heading back to the hotel to cool down and take a nap before returning to the park in the late afternoons leaves our children a lot happier and our day far more enjoyable.
SPF Top Ups
No matter what time of year you head out to Orlando, try to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours to prevent sun-related damage to your or your little one’s skin.
Although the parks have shade, you will spend a lot of your day in the sun, and you don’t want to be returning for day two with extreme sunburn.
Purchase Essentials at CityWalk
CityWalk outside the parks stocks essentials like sunscreen. Just outside the parks are several options for other items. Forgetting things happens, but luckily you can make a pitstop and pick up whatever it was you forgot.
Theme parks are where sunglasses go to die, and if you or your little ones will be wearing any at the parks, purchase a sunglass strap to keep them attached to you at all times.
Rent a Stroller
Both Universal parks have stroller rentals at their entrance, and you can choose between a singular or double-seated stroller, so you don’t need to worry about bringing your own.
Take Advantage of the Rides “Child Swap”
“Child Swap” is a feature at Universal where your entire family will queue for a ride, and when you reach the front of the line, you’ll be sectioned off into non-riders and riders.
The non-riders are typically one parent and a child/children who are too small or too scared to ride the ride. Once the riders complete the ride, the parents can swap places so both parents can ride without waiting in the queue all over again.
If you have older children riding, they’ll get to ride back to back with both parents.
Hire a Locker
Lockers are found at the entrance to the park, where you can pay a daily fee and unload any bags or items you don’t want to carry around for the remainder of the day.
Use the Baby Care Center
Islands of Adventure’s baby care centre is to the right as you enter the park. The care centre is equipped with changing tables, rocking chairs, microwaves, and a peaceful environment where you can sit down and look after your baby without being distracted by everything outdoors.
The Islands of Adventure express pass allows you to bypass the line of an attraction in the park one time. The unlimited express pass means you can skip the line of an attraction as many times as you wish.
The express passes can be expensive, but if your family are rollercoaster lovers, having the ability to ditch the wait times is well worth it.
Islands of Adventure Rides for Toddlers
The Island of Adventure park is split into eight sections, with rides or shows suitable for toddlers in all but one. The Lost Continent currently doesn’t have any toddler-friendly rides or attractions.
If you’re heading to the parks, I’ve broken down the best Islands of Adventure rides for kids and Islands of Adventure shows that you won’t want to miss.
Marvel Super Hero Island
Storm Force Accelatron
Next to the Incredible Hulk rollercoaster is the Storm Force Accelatron ride with no height restrictions, so even the littlest superheroes can act out their fantasies.
Once seated in the standard but superhero-themed spinning carnival ride, you can control the wheel in the middle to spin as fast or as slow as you’d like.
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
Sadly to ride the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, children must be over 40 inches tall, but I thought I’d include it into the list.
The motion simulator 3-D experience will have you helping Spidey battle his nemeses to reclaim the Statue of Liberty, all while soaring through New York’s skyscrapers and undergoing a 400-foot freefall.
Me Ship, The Olive
Me Ship, The Olive is a Popeye-themed multi-story water area with slides, water cannons, and climbing nets to help your little ones cool down and blow off some steam.
Camp Jurassic is another multi-story playground in the park, this time taking on a prehistoric theme where your kids can run around amongst the dinosaurs and explore the different playground and water park areas. Check out the adventure playground and amber mines!
Children 36 inches and over can soar through the skies of Camp Jurassic on a swinging seat attached to a track above the Jurassic Park area.
The slow-moving swing holds two people, and children under 48 inches must have an adult ride with them.
Jurassic Park Discovery Center
The Jurassic Park Discovery Center looks exactly like what you’d see in the movies and is the perfect place to take a break from the sun and cool down.
An indoor display area with life-sized dinosaur statues is on the centre’s lower level. The centre allows you to learn all about dinosaurs, so you can expect to analyse dinosaur eggs, dig for fossils, and even perform DNA sequencing. Look out for the live shows where you see a dinosaur hatch live or have the opportunity to pet a toddler dinosaur!
Islands of Adventure Rides for Toddlers: Dr. Seuss in Seuss Landing
The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride
Dr. Seuss in Seuss Landing is where most of the toddler rides at Islands of Adventures are located.
The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride has two different routes where you’ll either hear the story of the ABCs of Seuss characters or the Star-Bellied Sneetches.
The Trolley Train Ride requires children to be a minimum of 36 inches to ride in the two-seater cars, and don’t worry; there are no scary speeds, drops, or turns!
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
Choose a fish and ride along on the One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish aerial carousel. As your fish flys around, you can enjoy the Dr. Seuss poem and move the handle in your fish to avoid getting wet by the outside water sprayers.
An adult must accompany all children under 48 inches, but the fish seats are big enough to comfortably fit one adult and one small child.
The Street of the Lifted Lorax
Wander down The Street of the Lifted Lorax, where you can read quotes from The Lorax and take photos in the themed backdrops.
Take a carousel and add a Dr. Seuss spin on it, and you have the adorable Caro-Seuss-el with all the famous Seuss characters.
Not only can you climb aboard a creative cast of Dr. Seuss characters, you can make their eyes blink, ears wiggle and heads turn. Little ones will love this sensationally Seussian twist on the classic carnival ride.
There is no minimum height restriction on the ride, but an adult must supervise children under 48 inches.
Like any regular carousel, children can ride on both booth seats or horse-like characters, and to animate the characters, you can push the lever on the back of their necks or simply pull their reins.
Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear
One of the must-see Islands of Adventure shows for kids is the Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear show in Dr. Seuss landing.
The Cat in the Hat, Thing One, Thing Two, the Grinch, and Sam I Am, tell stories, sing and dance, and interact with the audience, so make sure you get a seat up front!
After the show, you can even stick around and have photos taken with the characters.
The Cat in the Hat
The Cat in the Hat has a minimum height restriction of 36 inches, and an adult must accompany any child under 48 inches.
As you enter the ride’s queue, you’re taken through the Cat in the Hats beloved book, which eventually leads to an indoor ride.
The ride has two rows of seats, and once the ride begins, your car will spin all the way around whilst you go through the indoor ride.
If I Ran the Zoo
If I Ran a Zoo is another brilliantly themed playground in Islands of Adventure. As you watch on, your kids will have the opportunity to run and play through water and climbing sections of the park.
I advise bringing a spare change of clothes as they may get a little carried away and end up drenched from head to toe.
Islands of Adventure Rides for Toddlers: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade
Frog Choir and Triwizard Spirit Rally
One of my favourite parts of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the scene with the singing frogs. Adults and children of all ages can watch Hogwarts students with replicas of the giant frogs sing and perform songs in Hogsmeade.
During the Triwizard Spirit Rally performance, you can watch and cheer on the rival schools of Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang as they sing and dance before the Triwizard Tournament.
Flight of the Hippogriff
Although the Flight of the Hippogriff is only a small rollercoaster, it has a few drops that little kids may not enjoy.
The minimum height requirement is 36 inches, and you’ll ride around taking in views of Buckbeak, Hogsmeade, and Hogwarts.
The Hogwarts Express
I mentioned before that if you have a park-to-park ticket, you can hop on the Hogwarts Express in Hogsmeade and be taken to Diagon Alley in the Universal Studios park.
The train is an excellent alternative to walking between the two parks, and any train or Harry Potter lovers in the family will be thrilled with the opportunity.
Islands of Adventure Rides for Toddlers: Skull Island
Skull Island: Reign of Kong
The 3-D slow-moving trackless ride of the Skull Island: Reign of Kong may be too scary for little riders, but children over 36 inches can jump on the ride with an accompanying adult.
As you travel through the ride on a truck, you’ll be ambushed by creatures including dinosaurs, chased through Skull Island, and saved by Kong himself.
|Universal Studios||Despicable Me Minion Mayhem||40 inches||This 3D motion simulator ride takes you on an adventure with the Minions. There is a non motion option.|
|Universal Studios||E.T. Adventure||34 inches||This dark ride takes you on a journey through the forest with E.T.|
|Universal Studios||Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl||34 inches||This spinning ride will have you twirling and laughing.|
|Islands of Adventure||Flight of the Hippogriff||36 inches||This junior coaster is based on the Harry Potter books and films.|
|Islands of Adventure||Pteranodon Flyers||36 inches||This gentle flying ride takes you soaring through the air.|
|Islands of Adventure||The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!||34 inches||This slow-moving train ride takes you through the world of Dr. Seuss.|
|Islands of Adventure||One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish||34 inches||This gentle boat ride takes you on a journey through the world of Dr. Seuss.|
|Islands of Adventure||The Cat in the Hat||36 inches||This dark ride takes you on an adventure with The Cat in the Hat, Thing 1, and Thing 2.|
|Islands of Adventure||Caro-Seuss-el||No height requirement||This merry-go-round features life-size, rideable characters from Dr. Seuss’ most beloved stories, including elephant birds from “Horton Hatches the Egg,” cowfish from “McElligot’s Pool,” and more.|
|Both Parks||Hogwarts Express||No height requirement||The Hogwarts Express is a fully immersive experience that takes you from Hogsmeade Station in Islands of Adventure to King’s Cross Station in Universal Studios Florida and vice versa with a different experience each way.|
Quick glance table to see the rides suitable for toddlers at Universal and Islands of Adventure
After Universal, why not consider other theme parks around Orlando for toddlers? From Peppa Pig World to Dinosaur World there is lots for them to do!